Whitechapel – Mark of the Blade (Metal Blade)

Genre: Extreme Metal

Whitechapel started to move away from their deathcore roots some years back and Mark of the Blade sees yet more evolution… with disappointing results.

2012’s self-titled opus was a masterpiece of contemporary extremity, but sadly 2014’s Our Endless War seemed dull in comparison. And while the sextet’s sixth album widens their sound considerably – there’s even a quasi-ballad on it – much of Mark of the Blade fails to shine.

There’s plenty of aggression (as you’d expect from the Tennessee mob) and there are some decent vocal performances from Phil Bozeman – who introduces a melodic side to his singing on the likes of Bring Me Home. Yet too often, Whitechapel sound like Slipknot without the memorable hooks, or like a bog standard nu-metal band who decided to take a heavier direction – Elitist Ones and the title track being prime examples of this.

In going for groove, it seems like Whitechapel have lost the spark found on their earlier material – given their undoubted talent, that’s one hell of a shame.